Finnish Presidency and Commission join forces at first ever collaborative event on sector coupling and NECPs

The panelists at the workshop

Last Tuesday, representatives from EU countries (and beyond), the European Commission and a variety of stakeholders worked on a joint “Solution Starter Map” on sector coupling and NECPs (National Energy and Climate Plans  – NECPs). The document is expected to be finalised before the Council meeting on 4th December.

“The EU sector coupling: Who asks for the road never gets lost. From the Nordics to the EU – showing the path towards the 2030 targets”: this was the name of the event during which the innovative drafting exercise took place. The high-level conference and workshop were co-organised by the European Heat Pump Association (EHPA), the Finnish Presidency, the Mission of Norway to the EU and the European Commission, at the Norway House on 19th November.

Sector coupling is a key vector to deliver on ambitious NECPs’ targets. High-level speakers participated in the event and discussed important aspects of how NECPs should unlock the potential of sector integration.

The conference was opened by Thomas Nowak, Secretary General of the European Heat Pump Association. «We are living interesting times: the Clean Energy 4 All package is finished – notably a draft of the NECPs, a long term strategy is also on the table, plus a Green New Deal bridging the two. I look forward to a productive afternoon that can fuel the debate taking place at the Energy Council on 4th December» said Mr. Nowak.

Mr. Per Strand Sjaastad, Deputy Head of Mission of Norway to the European Union as well as Ambassador of Norway to the Kingdom of Belgium was the first keynote speaker of the event. «Norway and Iceland signed up to extended cooperation with the EU to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the economy by at least 40% by 2030» stated the Ambassador of Norway.

Mr. Riku Huttunen, Director-general for energy at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment in Finland, gave the opening remarks, presenting the Presidency’s objectives and the decarbonisation targets. «Smart sector integration will be a key theme in the next Energy Council meeting. The Nordics are on a credible road towards climate neutrality» said Mr. Huttunen.

Mr. Antonio Lopez-Nicolas, Deputy Head of the Renewable Energy Unit, DG ENER, European Commission reinforced the level of ambition to reach the 2030 targets under the NECPs during his speech: «We are working with the Member States and the Finnish Presidencyto ensure no gaps in the final energy and climate plans. We hope that at the beginning of next year, after the submission of the new plans, the gaps will be closed».

Mr. Lopez-Nicolas was followed by Mr. William Walker Rosenvinge Rode, Senior Engineer at Norwegian Water Resources & Energy Directorate. Mr. Rosenvinge Rode provided a history of the road towards the decarbonisation of heating in Norway, sharing concrete solutions that inspired the audience.

An important part of the event was the contribution of the participants to the “Solution Starter Map” on how to enable sector coupling to deliver on the NECPs in five dimensions: people, technology readiness, infrastructure, markets and governance.

The workshop was introduced by Mr. Dolf Gielen, Director of Innovation and Technology Centre at IRENA. He encouraged the participants to focus on solutions that can address the challenges and barriers to sector coupling. «Solutions need to be tailored to meet sectoral needs. Some of the requirements are affordability, market and regulatory enablers, industry competitiveness» suggested Mr. Gielen.

The Solution Starter workshop was followed by a stimulating panel discussion with Jean-Arnold Vinois, Adviser on European Energy Policy, Jacques Delors Institute, Elisa Giannelli, Researcher working on Energy Union Governance at E3G, Monika Kuusela, Senior Manager, Public Affairs at Fortum and Monique Goyens, Director General at BEUC. Thomas Nowak, Secretary General of the European Heat Pump Association moderated the panel. The panelists took the workshop solutions further and discussed about how to translate concrete solutions into NECPs and other legislative frameworks.

The “Solution Starter Map” arising from this workshop will be finalised before the Council meeting on 4th December, after all contributions have been processed by the co-organisers and will be shared with the participants